Chudi Martin Jr. Talks Student Senate Goals

Chudi Martin Jr. is a College third-year and was recently elected Student Senate President. He has been working in this position since the summer and wishes to communicate his and Senate’s goals and values to the Oberlin student body.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why did you choose to run for president in the Student Senate? 

I’ll take it back to my first year. In my first semester, one of my friends in Posse and quite a few other people were like, “I think you should run for Senate. I’m gonna nominate you.” I was like, “Okay. If you think I’ll be good at the job or effective at it, then who am I to say no to you?” Having that trust that people have in me inspires me to really put myself out there and be someone that people are comfortable with. To be someone that people trust and believe in to get a job done, and also to represent people who look like me, was really imperative for me. People wanted to see somebody they believed in — especially somebody who looks like them. The whole Blackout Senate campaign, for a majority of two years, to be honest, was a large contribution of being in that office. To have Black senators, to have people, in all positions of Senate — whether it be president, whether it be first-year representative — that was really what I felt to be important. 

What are some of the goals and values you have as president? 

I think it is just transparency about what’s happening. I feel like Senate, during my time and before my time, has always been a voice of information and making sure that people are informed about the status of the campus and anything that pertains to student life, faculty life, or admin. It’s making sure that we are a group that anybody can come to for reliable information. Senate should be a place where students can feel safe and comfortable to talk about things and to bring issues to us. We’re really the bridge between all the groups around campus, regarding the parents, regarding students, regarding faculty, the adminstration, board, everybody. 

I think especially in recent times, too, it’s important to realize we’re not always gonna agree on things and we’re not always gonna see eye to eye on things between groups. But having that space where we can still work together and still come together through discourse, with different ideas and better plans, that’s when we come together as a community. That’s one of my biggest things — community. I live in A-House. Those principles are just about being able to come together, be together in a group, share love for each other, and have common experiences and bonds with each other. So one of the things I’m thinking about too is having monthly meetings between certain organizations so that they have that connection, that sense of unity.

How do your extracurriculars and daily life affect your principles as president? 

Having that balance of professional life, personal life, and knowing what I am doing physically, mentally, and musically creates these different spaces and I think that’s something that kind of shines when balancing things in Student Senate. A lot of the work that Senate does is serious, but also there’s this first-year bonding event that we’re gonna have. There’s this homecoming thing that we’re gonna do. It’s having this balance of time to be serious, but there’s also times where we are doing this one thing for us. 


With everything that is happening with the Board of Trustees, how has that affected the way you look at Senate and your own position?

It’s very important to understand who we interact with on a day-to-day basis — who knows what and who has that connection. And that’s no fault of anybody in that sense. But students know students best and faculty know students best. We see each other, we interact with each other. And there are certain things that must have a place in an institution, for people to feel that they are supported on a basis of emotion or a basis of other stuff. There are just times where Senate has to say, “Students are not okay with this.” And just having that overwhelming majority of concern has caused Senate to say, “Okay, this is something we got to say something about.” I talked a lot about information earlier, but students need to be informed about the state of this institution. And it’s our job to make sure that students are informed about issues. And it’s also our job for students to see what the campus is looking like and know how we are trying to address the problem.